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Thread: What should I do?

  1. #1

    What should I do?

    Hello friends, I need advice.

    My E3 is in the shop with serious tuning trigger alignment issues. My tech hasn't yet gotten back to me with repair costs because he's reaching out to Miel to find out how much ordering two additional main tuning slides is going to cost. I bought the horn second hand and fully understand that this is part and parcel with buying a used horn - I have no idea if any of this will be covered under warranty even though it is a factory defect.

    Here's the problem: I am not in love with this horn. It plays fine - it's a fine horn. But it is not as good as the last E3 I had and is definitely not as responsive. Part of this may be that the last E3 had a yellow brass bell compared to now a silver bell but the tuning trigger may play a role.

    This is also not the first horn with a tuning trigger that I've had problems with. Without exception, almost every other horn I've ever played with a tuning trigger has BUZZED from the main tuning slide. I don't know what it is about my playing but I get a lot of resonance from the main tuning slide assembly. The two Geneva's I had buzzed and could not be fixed. The first Yamaha Neo with trigger buzzed. The second one buzzed but WAY less and I was able to mitigate it with heavier tuning slide grease to the point that it didn't buzz at all. As soon as that grease wore down though, the buzz returned. This E3 is in between the two Yamahas - I can manage the buzz with heavy grease for a time but it always returns within a day or two.

    My tech claims that the tuning slide and tubing leading to it are out of alignment, causing this problem. This is why he reached out for new slides, he is going to realign it himself. I'm wondering though if maybe I should think about ditching this completely and going another direction. I'm also tired of horn swapping - it is an anxiety I just don't need in my life right now.

    Here are my options as I see them:
    1. Fix the horn. Pay the cost or maybe have it covered under warranty. Could be $1000? $1500?
    2. Remove the trigger completely. Lose valuable feature (horn is sharp with 6th partial Concert F) but gain resonance and responsiveness. I know this because I tested it this way with the tech and the horn felt like a completely different horn.
    3. Sell the horn and move on to something else.

    Mainly I'm just curious to see what other people would do in this situation. Should I go back to the Neo, which I sold because I didn't like the presence in brass band? Maybe the 842 with trigger? Maybe the new Prestige, which I can't afford right now? I played an Eastman 526 for about two hours and really liked this horn. 6th partials were a mess but the valves were amazing and the resonance outstanding.

    I just feel lost and need advice. I'm trying to get our brass band going again and I have to be the dependable one - I need to get this horn mess straightened out.
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D
    Founder and Solo Euphonium
    San Francisco Brass Band

  2. #2
    I definitely believe the yellow brass bell has more snap and liveliness than the sterling silver. I actually dislike the sterling silver because of this.

    I also certainly think there's a tendency for manufacturers to lap main tuning slides looser than they need to be in order to compensate for imperfect alignment. My Besson certainly had this problem. The alignment on my first E3 was a mess and the trigger never worked properly for me even after being sent back to NL for repairs. Adams were very nice and took care of me, ultimately making a whole new instrument to make me happy (THANK YOU!!) but they do take a lot of pride in their work and it seems like they were almost insulted I would suggest there was a misalignment with the first one.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Summerfield, Florida
    Hey Jake,

    Sorry to hear about the problems. I own an Adams E3 that should be very similar to yours, it has a SS bell, 0.6 gauge metal, brushed finish (from your avatar, it looks the same). I also have the main tuning slide trigger, which I very seldom use. I am so used to lipping notes as I play (and listen), and the Adams isn't that far off, at least mine doesn't seem to be so. I could say I am getting older than dirt and maybe my ears don't work so good, but I check the Adams against a tuner frequently. I am also the go to person in the band to tune to a concert F (in staff), and there are a bunch of people in the band with tuners, and if I am 5 cents off, they chirp up immediately.

    So my tuning slide which is trigger activated works pretty good, but admittedly I don't fuss with it much to make it work much easier. I have some heavier weight grease on it as I don't want any leaks or droplets of water coming off the slide. It works but I would categorize it as a bit sluggish (on purpose).

    As for the alignment issues, was it like that when you got it? Or is this something that has occurred since you have owned it? I just now played with my trigger and it moves smoothly and seemingly straight up and down. The alignment seems fine. Just a wee bit sluggish as I mentioned before. I have made it much easier before, but don't want it that way now.

    Might you have done something to cause it to go out of alignment? That slide presses up against me when I hold it. Might you have put too much pressure on it. I have heard of slides getting out of alignment by forces when people hold the horn next to them.

    If I had a problem like you describe, I would probably want Miel and his bunch to work the issue. As much of a pain as that might be, I would absolutely send mine back to Holland. I had the hand guard/brace come unsoldered on one side of my E3 and a pin prick (don't want to say dent) on the bottom bow that I had Lee Stofer in Iowa fix. He also did remarkably good work on Dave Werden's Adam when his bell got goofed up. I am not saying that Lee or your technician is not up to the task, but with this issue, I would send it to Miel. Also, the buzzing thing is disconcerting.

    I love my E3 and wouldn't trade or change horns ever (well, I guess nothing is always that absolute, but I sure can't feature myself getting a replacement main horn).

    I just think putting the horn in the hands of Adams gives you the very best chance for a good outcome. That is what I would do. They may elect to remove the tuning trigger and attachments altogether if that is what you think you want.

    You would probably need a loaner or inexpensive horn in the meantime. I bought a Wessex Dolce when I was waiting 6 months for my Adams. Great investment and really good inexpensive horn.

    Good luck.

    Last edited by John Morgan; 06-06-2021 at 09:01 AM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)

  4. #4
    I have only owned one euphonium with a trigger, my Sterling Virtuoso. It worked nicely (after I figured out what lubricant to use - it was very fussy and undependable before that). I needed a trigger on the Sterling to avoid alternate fingerings for pitch. Then I took the horn on the plane to Phoenix to play for ITEC, doing part of a premier for 5 euphoniums and piano. After landing in Phoenix I opened the case, which was a rectangular wooded design like we see on most Willsons, and examined the horn for damage. The bell and everything else looked OK so I buttoned it up and went to the venue for our rehearsal. Instinctively I believed the trigger was the most vulnerable part of the horn because the paddle extended outside the slides. And I have always pushed all tuning slides in before flying with the horn, which creates the strongest assembly. The Sterling had an adjustable padded, so I turned it down until the paddle nested inside the 3rd slide run. Anyway, when I got the horn out and tried to reset the slides I found out the main tuning slide was stuck tight all the way in. The trigger was 100% useless to move it, and it took a lot of strength to "manually" pull it out the 3/8" it usually needed. I would not have been able to adjust tuning quickly during the concert, so I decided (reluctantly) to use a new Sterling from the display. It did have the same bell as my own and of course was not broken in. The performance had some rough moments that were partly due to trying to jump down to the compensating register on a horn that was not played in yet.

    Let me emphasize there was still no visible damage to the case or the horn. My best theory is that when the luggage was strapped/netted together in the cargo hold, it was tight enough to squeeze the flat sides of the case a little and that misaligned the tuning slide. I gave it to Custom Music to take with them after the show and their tech realigned the slide so it worded fine.

    It is also possible to TSA took it out to examine it. Then in trying to fit it into the case with the bell pad, then pushed it down hard enough to warp things. It takes only a small change to mess it up.

    That experience is one of the reasons I didn't want a trigger on my Adams, and neither my original E1 nor my current E3 had/have a trigger. In truth the primary reason is an injured left wrist that can object to the extra work of triggering while also holding up the horn.

    It is possible that your E3 had been misaligned via some incident/treatment before you got it. Assuming it worked when it left the factory, I'm surprised your tech could not fix it. But it sounds like you and triggers don't get along well anyway.

    One more anecdote. When my horn fell out of the car (in the case) and the bell got creased, it was not just a cosmetic problem. There are braces and a leadpipe attached to the bell, and my first valve would not move and he 4th slide was very hard to remove. So it can be hard to say what damage to one part might do in unsuspected areas.

    *IF* you want to try another horn with a trigger, I would suggest a Willson. They offer a trigger on some models and they horn itself is built very sturdily. It won't have the responsiveness of the Adams, but it might keep your trigger working smoothly.

    Part of Miel's concept is that the horns should be able to vibrate freely. As with some of the top trumpet brands, a student might look at an Adams and think, "Where the heck is all the bracing? This must be a cheap horn!" More bracing of the horn (not just around the trigger) would help the trigger, but would take away other qualities. Miel prefers to build the euphonium without a trigger, but he also knows that many people really want one.

    The previous paragraph was to explain this one! The only horn I have tested that I don't think needs a trigger IS the Adams. So given all you said, I might suggest an E3 in yellow brass at .70 thickness. I tested one in 2019 and it was a nice horn. If you feel the E3 would need a trigger for your use, the .70 brass would give it a bit more structural strength to help keep it in alignment. The E2 uses .80 brass and is probably the most sturdy (it feels like a Willson). So a trigger on it would be an option.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  5. #5
    Thanks for the replies. The horn was shipped to me seemingly undamaged - the trigger assembly and slide moved freely in and out of the horn without problem. The only problem was a secondary buzz between the tuning slide and casing due to *something*. Maybe it was damaged during shipping, maybe it was improperly aligned at the factory. What Barry said about overlapping to overcompensate would seem to make sense with the problems I've had. The tech I'm using has experience installing aftermarket triggers and I have had no problems on those horns he retrofitted. He said too, when you get a trigger you (maybe unknowingly) sign up for a series of tradeoffs. The slide is looser, so it doesn't transmit vibration the same, the trigger itself adds bracing and metal that wouldn't be there otherwise as you guys have said. I think I'm leaning on just having them remove it altogether but will wait and see what they and Adams come up with.
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D
    Founder and Solo Euphonium
    San Francisco Brass Band

  6. #6
    I canít comment on the E3, as it came from me, but I will say that while I like the Willson 2960 quite a lot, the trigger on Willson horns doesnít seem to be put together that well. The way the mechanism works moves the slide down by applying both downward and lateral force, and if the trigger isnít immaculately lubed, it had trouble returning to position.

    On the other hand, besson really seems to have the whole trigger thing figured out in terms of ease of movement and properly returning to position.
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    San Diego, California
    I had serious alignment issues with the tuning trigger on my Miraphone 5050 10 years ago when I brought it at a reputable shop in the LA area. The slide would chronically get stuck. At first I was told it the slide needed a different lube. When that didn't work I took it to their recommended repair guy who was unable to fix it. I considered sending it back to Germany, but I finally found a local tech who realigned the slides and it has worked fine since. I've also had issues with losing linkage parts which initially was a challenge to replace. That said, if I were to do it all over again, I would forgo the tuning trigger altogether- I just don't need it for the type of playing I do. Jake, if you don't like your horn, sell it, and find what works for you. Good luck on your quest.
    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
    Mp: Wick SM4 Ultra X
    The San Diego Concert Band
    Big Brass Quartet- tuba ensemble (EETT)

  8. Jake, my E3 is a .70 yellow brass horn with no tuning slide trigger. I specifically got it because I wanted a triggerless horn to complement my Sterling. I will admit that the mech on my Sterling trigger has needed quite a bit of tweaking over the years, but it mostly has to do with a couple of other mods to my horn. I have the older trigger that had a turnbuckle style pushrod with thumb-nut tuning and stops (like a trumpet 3rd valve slide). I have modified the horn by going to the thumb-screw pushrod of the newer horns and reducing the spring tension. I also have a belly plate that attaches directly to the two tuning slide ferrules.

    My tuning slide MUST be properly adjusted, cleaned, and lubricated to work well. If I am not careful, the belly plate can get skewed and cause mis-alignment in the tuning slide ferrules which causes binding. If the slide starts to build up calcium deposits, it starts to stick (like valves do). If I adjust the thumb paddle too high or too low, the change in angle on the pushrod causes side pressure on the tuning slide and things stick. As long as I pay attention, the trigger is remarkable and really helps on 6th partial and a few other notes.

    Having said all of this, I have been able to keep it in good repair most of the time. BUT, the Besson mechanism is the smoothest and most useful of any I have used. The new German Prestige with the snap ball linkage allows you to remove the tuning slide very easily for cleaning. The cast braces for the belly pan mount are very robust and support both the pan and the slide ferrules by attaching to the outer branch, replacing the traditional Besson U-shaped braces of the non-triggered horns. I never had problems with the trigger on my 2007 Prestige.

    Last edited by daruby; 05-29-2021 at 05:37 PM.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  9. #9
    It's not that I *don't* like it - again it's a fine horn. I have a feeling trying to make any decision now based on a horn that isn't playing to it's capability due to the alignment issue is just an exercise in frustration. I think wait and see is probably the best approach right now. I just get nervous for my band, again, we've set our first rehearsal for June 24th and I can't be coming in unprepared. I think it causes undo anxiety. I'm going on vacation next week anyway, maybe I'll ask if I can borrow/rent that Eastman while my horn is being repaired.
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D
    Founder and Solo Euphonium
    San Francisco Brass Band

  10. #10
    Bit of an update:
    Iím on vacation until Wednesday but my tech is still trying to resolve this with Adams. Apparently Adams has redesigned the E3 main tuning slide within the last year, so itís not a simple fix. Miel is sending a new tuning slide and the tubing that connects it to my tech free of charge. Thatís pretty awesome. My tech is going to charge me a minimal fee to do the install and so when itís all said and done everything should hopefully be fixed. I donít have any details as to what has changed or why the redesign was needed, but itís more information that speaks to the problem I was having. Iíll post more info when I have it!

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